Although they still have a window of appeal, some federal lawmakers are on the verge of losing their seats, SUNDAY ISUWA and KAUTHER KHALEEL write.
The past few weeks have witnessed a barrage of upsets for federal lawmakers at the Election Petition Tribunals across the country. Senators and House of Representative members saw their mandates upturned by the panels. But like two sides of a coin, other federal lawmakers had their mandates upheld by the Tribunals.
Expectedly however, while those who have lost at the tribunal have an opportunity to retain their mandate through the appeal panel, those who have won would hope that their mandates are upheld at the appeal stage, that is if their opponents decide to head to the higher court.
The intrigues over the outcome of tribunal judgements intensifies when viewed against the backdrop battle for numbers between the two major parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Neverthless, for some pundits, the current spate of Tribunal upset beams the spotlight on the nature of the last general elections vis-a-vis the role of the critical stakeholders in the process.
So far, senators whose mandates were affected by the Tribunal include the vocal lawmaker from Kogi West, Dino Melaye; the chief whip of the Senate, Orji Uzo Kalu; a high ranking lawmaker from Delta State, James Manager; and the present spokesman of the Senate, Adedayo Adeye from Ekiti State.
When he was sacked by the Tribunal that ordered a fresh election, the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye described the ruling nullifying his election victory in the March 22, 2019 election and ordering for a fresh election as a total miscarriage of justice. His main contender is Sen Smart Adeyemi of APC.
While Melaye will have to battle at the appeal, the National/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal for Kogi State sitting in Abuja on August 30, 2019 dismissed the Petition of Barr Natasha Akpoti which she filed against Senator Yakubu Oseni (Kogi Central, APC).
Also, the Senate chief whip, Orji Uzo Kalu said he won’t loose sleep after his removal by the Tribunal which also called for supplementary election in some polling units across Abia North Senatorial District.
Kalu polled 30,203 votes against his closest rival, Senator Mao Ohaubunwa of the PDP who garnered 20,801 votes in the February 23, 2019 general election.
But Kalu’s challenger, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa dedicated his victory at the election tribunal to God and the people of Abia north who have remained steadfast in his struggle to retrieve what he described as ‘his stolen mandate.’
Ohuabunwa in his first official reaction in Abuja described the judgement as a victory for all lovers of democracy.
Another senator who suffered an upset is James Manager, representing Delta South Senatorial district, whose election was challenged by a former governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan of the APC. Manager was elected on the platform of the PDP.
The Delta State National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Asaba nullified Manager’s victory at the polls and ordered for a fresh election within 90 days.
Not even the spokesman of the Senate, Adedayo Adeyeye of the APC was spared. He was sacked by the Tribunal which declared Sen Biodun Olujimi of the PDP as the winner.
Adeyeye described the judgment as being short of open robbery and a direct assault on the integrity of the Nigerian judiciary.
Despite his humiliting ordeal in Germany, former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerenmadu retained his seat. He was declared winner of the election at the Tribunal. He defeated Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu of the APC.
The current Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, also won at the Tribunal. He represents Delta Central Senatorial district. His victory was reaffirmed by the Electoral Tribunal sitting in Asaba. He defeated Evelyn Oboro of the PDP who challenged the election at the Tribunal.
Also, the Election Petition Tribunal upheld Sen Elisha Abbo’s election.
Abbo, represents Adamawa North Senatorial District but his election was challenged by Sen Binta Masi Graba, a politician who was the only female senator in the 8th Assembly from the entire 19 states.
The election of Sen Adamu Bulkachuwa of the APC was also affirmed by the Bauchi State Election Petition Tribunal. Bulkachuwa was challenged at the Tribunal by Farouq Mustapha of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
The only Young Progressive Party (YPP) Senator in the red chamber, Ifeanyi Uba, had his election upheld.
The Election Tribunal sitting in Awka, Anambra State upheld Uba’s victory in the February 23, National Assembly election and dismissed the consolidated petitions of both Chris Ubah of PDP and Andy Ubah of APC.
House of Representatives …
The situation in the lower chamber was not different.
Alex Egbona (Cross-River, APC)
Egbona who represents Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency of Cross River, Hon. Alex Egbona of the APC, was sacked by the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Calabar.
Delivering its judgment, the chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Vincent Agabata, declared that as of February 23, 2019, Egbona was not qualified to contest the election adding that the votes scored by Egbona in the election were “defiant votes and therefore invalid and unlawful.”
Kolapo Osunsanya (Ogun, APC)
The Election Petitions Tribunal which sat in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, nullified the election of Hon. Kolapo Osunsanya, representing Ijebu Central Federal Constituency.
A member of the APC Osunsanya was sacked by the Justice Wakkil Alkali Gana-led election petition tribunal which cancelled the votes from Ward 5, Unit 5 in Ijebu-Ode Local Government Area; Ward 10, Unit 3 in Odogbolu Local Government and the entire Ward 8 in Ijebu-North Local Government, of Ijebu Central Federal Constituency.
In its judgement, the tribunal ordered that a rerun be conducted within 90 days.
The PDP candidate, Taiwo Shote, had filed a petition challenging Osunsanya’s declaration as the winner of the February 23rd, 2019 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Bamidele Salami (Osun, PDP)
Salami represents Ede Federal Constituency. However, the APC candidate, Adejare Bello challenged Salami’s victory.
The Justice Eyo Ita-led Election Petition Tribunal which nullified the election held that evidence showed that there was over-voting in the affected units adding that after the cancellation of elections in units where over-voting was established, the margin of victory between the winner and the petitioner was less than the number of registered voters in the affected units.
It also ordered that rerun elections should be held in 12 units of the federal constituency – Ede North (three units), Ede South (four units), Egbedore (three units and Ejigbo (two units).
Hon. Lazarus Ogbee (Ebonyi, PDP)
Ogbe’s election was cancelled by the National Assembly Tribunal in Abakiliki, on September 9. He represents Ikwo\Ezza South federal constituency of the state. Delivering the judgement, Justice Sika Henry Aprioku declared the candidate of the APC, Chinedu Ogar, as the winner of the poll and ordered INEC to issue him a certificate of return with immediate effect. Ogar had contested the results of the election and insisted that his votes were erroneously reduced by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in wards like Ikwo and Onueke in Ezza.
Hon. Kolapo Osunsanya (Ogun, APC)
The lawmaker representing Ijebu Central Federal Constituency, had his election nullified by the judgement of the National and State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal.
The tribunal, led by Justice Wakkil Alkali Gana had, on Monday, nullified the lawmaker’s election and ordered a rerun to be conducted within 90 days in two units and an entire ward in the federal constituency which comprises three local government areas including Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu North East and Odogbolu.
The tribunal’s judgement is consequent upon a petition filed by the PDP candidate, Taiwo Shote, challenging the declaration of Osunsanya as winner of the February 23, 2019 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Hon. Shamsudeen Dambazau (Kano, APC)
Hon. Shamsudeen who represents Sumaila/Takai Federal Constituency, was sacked by the Election Petition Tribunal in Kano state.
The son of the immediate past Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, the lawmaker, who did not contest the election but scored the second highest votes in the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election, was sworn into the House of Representatives after a Kano federal high court disqualified the party’s candidate and former presidential aide, Hon. Suleiman Abdulrahman Kawu.
Delivering judgement on the case, the panel headed by Onyekan Abdullahi, upheld an earlier decision by the supreme court which disqualified Kawu on the grounds that he did not participate in all the preliminary stages of the election process. It held that the candidate with the second highest votes during the election be declared winner. It then ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, Surajo Idris Kanawa.
Hon. Benson Igbakpa (Delta, PDP)
Hon. Igbakpa’s victory at the February National Assembly election in February, was nullified by the Election Petition Tribunal Panel sitting in Asaba, after the panel upheld the petition of the candidate of the APC, Hon. Halims Agoda.
Igbakpa was sworn into the green chamber to represent Ethiope Federal Constituency.
However, Agoda had approached the Tribunal alleging gross irregularities and urged the Tribunal presided over by Justice A.M. Abubakar to cancel the election or declare him the winner, having scored the highest number of valid votes cast.
The Tribunal declared Agoda himself, a former lawmaker, as the winner and directed the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) to issue him with a certificate of return.
Hon. Ikengboju Gboluga (Ondo, PDP)
The elections petition tribunal in Ondo State, sacked Ikengboju Gboluga as member representing Okitipupa/Irele Federal Constituency in the green chamber.
The three-man panel headed by Justice Nuhu Adi, sacked the lawmaker due to his allegiance to the United Kingdom having acquired UK citizenship. It held that the petitioner and candidate of the ruling APC at the election, Albert Akintoye, had been able to prove that the respondent was a citizen of the United Kingdom and ineligible to run for political office in Nigeria under section 66 sub-section one of the 1999 constitution. It consequently directed the election umpire, INEC to withdraw Gboluga’s certificate of return and issue same to Akintoye.
Hon. David Ogewu (Benue, APGA)
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC is expected to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Hon. Ogewu.
The National and State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal held that Samson Okwu of PDP, is the legitimate winner of the 2019 House of Representatives election for Oju/Obi constituency having led with a margin of nine hundred and ninety-four votes in two Local Government Areas .
Chairman of the Chairman, Justice A.A Adeleye gave the order Wednesday, while delivering judgement in the petition filed by Okwu, faulted the decision of INEC which declared Mr Ogewu the winner, without including result for Obi Local Government Area in the final collation.
Hon. Dennis Idahosa (Edo, APC)
The Edo State Election Petition Tribunal upheld the election of Hon. Dennis Idahosa as winner of the Ovia Federal Constituency election in Edo state.
Idahosa was dragged before the panel by Omosede Igbinedion of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), through a petition challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s declaration. She had also alleged that Idahosa was not qualified to contest the election and did not score majority of lawful votes.
The former legislator further alleged that Idahosa had acquired Canadian citizenship and sworn allegiance to Canada and, did not resign his position as an employee of the Ministry of Environment before the election.
In its ruling, the Justice L. O. Ogundana Tribunal, dismissed the petition for lacking merit.
Hon. Musliudeen Akinremi (OYO, APC)
Petition challenging the victory of Hon. Akinremi representing Ibadan North federal Constituency was struck out by the National Assembly election petition tribunal in Oyo State.
The candidate of the PDP, Ademola Omotoso, approached the tribunal urging the tribunal to declare him the winner as the election were allegedly marred by irregularities and failed to comply with the provision of the Electoral Act.
The panel led by Justice Anthony Akpovi, dismissed the petition because it lacked merit.
Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe (Oyo, APC)
Like Akinremi, Akande-Sadipe emerged victorious at the election tribunal as the panel upheld his victory at the National Assembly election. The petition which was brought against him by the PDP candidate, Mojeed Mogbonjubola, was dismissed for lack of merit.
Hon. Akande-Sadipe represents Oluyole Federal Constituency.
Hon. Olayemi Taiwo (Oyo, PDP)
Hon. Taiwo represents Ibarapa East Federal Constituency. His emergence as a federal legislator was challenged at the Election Petition tribunal by APC’s candidate, Adeniyi Olowofela.
The petitioner sought the nullification of Taiwo’s victory over electoral malpractices as well as non-compliance to the Electoral Act. The petition was however, dismissed by the tribunal.
Hon. Ganiyu Johnson (Lagos, APC)
The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal which sat in Ikeja, Lagos, affirmed the victory of Hon. Ganiyu Johnson in the February 23 election.
Johnson who represents Oshodi-Isolo II Federal Constituency had his victory challenged by the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Emmanuel Nnodim, in the February 23 National Assembly election as well as the March 8 rerun arguing the election was marred by irregularities, corrupt practices and non- compliance with electoral Act.
Delivering the judgement, Justice S. I. Okpara, said the petitioner failed to prove his allegations of malpractices and non-compliance beyond a reasonable doubt.
Hon. Haruna Mshelia (Borno, APC)
The petition challenging the victory of Hon. Mshelia was dismissed by the Borno National and State Houses of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal which sat in the nation’s capital, Abuja.
The PDP and its candidate, Emmanuel Bassi, in their suit, claimed that Mshelia was not duly elected by a majority of the lawful votes cast at the election of February 23rd. They also averred that the election was void by reason of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended. They therefore, urged the tribunal to nullify the return of the 2nd respondent as winner of the said election amongst other things.
However, the panel led by Justice Peter Kekemeke, in its ruling, held that the petitioners failed to comply with the provisions of Section 18 of the Electoral Act, as amended. It noted that the petitioners filed out of time, thereby flouting the seven-day time given by the law for filing of pre-hearing letter. As such, it dismissed the petition.
Hon. Valentine Ayika (Anambra, PDP)
Hon. Ayika’s victory at the 23 February election was upheld by the Election Petition Tribunal in Anambra State.
The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dozie Nwankwo, had sought the nullification of Ayika’s victory on the grounds that he was not the candidate of the PDP for the Aniocha/Dunukofia/Njikoka Federal Constituency. He also alleged that Ayika was not sponsored by the party hence, PDP had no candidate at the election. He prayed the panel to declare him the winner of the contest.
Hon. Kingsley Chinda (Rivers, PDP)
The petition filed by Accord Party (AP), candidate, Tony Bams against Hon. Chinda (Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency), was struck out by the Election Petition Tribunal. In its judgement, the panel dismissed the case for lack of merit.
Hon. Vincent Ofumelu (Anambra, PDP)
The petition by APGA candidate, Ekene Enefe, seeking to void Ofumelu’s victory on the February 23 election for Oyi/Ayamelu Federal Constituency, was struck out by the Tribunal in the state capital, Awka.
Hon. Patrick Asadu (Enugu, PDP)
The petition challenging the victory of Hon. Asadu was dismissed by the National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal. The panel affirmed the election of Hon. Patrick Asadu, representing Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South in the House of Representatives.
Asadu’s victory was challenged by the APC and its candidate, Ike Ugwuegede, who claimed that there was substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act. He had told the Tribunal that “Regulation 39, Sub 7 of the INEC guidelines for the 2019 general elections makes it mandatory for the results to be dated, stamped and signed and sought nullification.
However, Asadu had countered his claims, urging the Tribunal to dismiss the petition for lack of merit. Delivering its judgement, the Tribunal, led by Hon. Justice H.H. Kerang said the 1st and the 2nd respondents were not linked directly to any of the criminal allegations raised by their petitioners. It, therefore, held that the petition lacked merit and was dismissed.
Hon. Yusuf Kurdula (Sokoto, APC)
The Election Petitions Tribunal in Sokoto State, dismissed the petition of Hon. Isa Bashir-Kalanjeni of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)challenging the victory of Hon. Yusuf Kurdula of All Progressives Congress (APC), during the 2019 election for Tangaza/Gudu Federal Constituency.
Bashar-Kalanjeni, who was seeking for a fourth term in the House of Representatives, approached the tribunal to nullify Kurdula’s victory arguing that the exercise was marred with irregularities and did not comply with the Electoral Act. He also held that the winner was not qualified to contest and did not score the majority of lawful votes.
In its judgement, the Tribunal led by Justice Peter Akhihiero, who noted that the petitioner failed to prove that the election was marred with malpractices and not compliant with laws and dismissed the petition.
Hon. Leo Ogor (Delta, PDP)
The victory of the immediate past minority leader was upheld as Justice E.I Ngene dismissed the petition brought by Mr. Joel Thomas Onovwakpor of APC against him for lack of merit. Onovwakpor in his petition, claimed that Ogor, PDP and INEC connived to perpetrate massive electoral irregularities and urged the panel to cancel the election.
Hon. Oluyemi Taiwo (Oyo, PDP)
The National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Oyo State, dismissed the petition against the victory of Hon. Oluyemi Taiwo.
Joseph Olowofela of APC had challenged the victory of Taiwo in the February 23 election in Ibarapa/Ido Federal Constituency.
In the judgment panel led by Justice Anthony Akpovi, unanimously dismissed the petition for lacking in merit as the petitioner failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent did not win the election adding that the result of election presented by INEC was presumed authentic unless otherwise proven.
Hon. Abdullahi Mahmud Gaya (Kano, APC)
Hon. Gaya (Albasu/Ajingi/Gaya Federal Constituency) witnessed a second victory after a petition challenging his victory in the February 23 election struck out by the National and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kano.
According to the Justice Ajoke Adepoju-led panel, the petition which was filed by the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was dismissed on the grounds that the Petitioner did not give sufficient evidence to warrant the appeal to dismiss the APC’s prayers.
Hon. Efe Afe (Delta, PDP)
The petition against Hon. Afe was thrown out by the Justice Ngene-led Tribunal which declared it incompetent. APC candidate, Monday Igbuya, challenged Afe’s victory during the House of Representatives election for Okpe/Uvwie, and Sapele federal constituency.
Hon. Abdulmumuni Jibrin (Kano, APC)
The National and State Legislative Houses Elections Petition Tribunal in Kano affirmed the election of Hon. Abdulmumuni Jibrin as the winner of the Bebeji/Kiru Federal Constituency February 23, 2019 elections.
Hon. Muhammad Saidu Baragaja (Sokoto, PDP)
The National Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Sokoto upheld the election of Hon Muhammad Saidu Baragaja representing Sabon Birni/ Isa Federal Constituency.
Baragaja’s victory was challenged by Aminu Sani Isa (APC) for alleged electoral malpractices and non compliance with the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.
In his ruling, the Chairman of the panel, Justice P A Akhihiero held that Aminu Sani Isa failed to prove his case of election malpractices, non compliance and that there was no security report to substantiate his claims that attack by armed bandits affected the conduct of the polls. He, therefore, dismissed the petition for lack of merit.
Hon. Musa Sarki Adar (Sokoto, APC)
Sarki Adar represents Gada/Goronyo Federal Constituency. His victory was challenged by Muhammad Bello Aliyu of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for alleged electoral malpractices and non compliance with the provision of the 2010 Electoral Act as amended.
Ruling on the case, Justice A.N Yakubu, held that the Petitioner failed to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. And also dismissed the petition for lack of merit.
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